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Thai Meal

September 19, 2011

My first exposure to Thai food was in Sausalito, California thanks to a friend we had met in the Colombian islands. (Warning: Don't tell us "Come see me any time" unless you mean it. We may travel 3,000 miles to take you up on the offer.) Edgar took us to all his favorite sights and restaurants while we were visiting, and one of these became my new favorite cuisine.

Since we enjoyed the Thai food so much, when we got back home Dave started looking for recipes to try to duplicate the meals and flavors. I don't claim that these recipes are authentic (or even Thai, really) since I have had no exposure to the culture itself, but they are a fair representation of what we were served. As always, Dave started by reading Joy of Cooking, picking some recipes and then altering them to fit our tastes after cooking them a few times. What makes Joy such a treat to cook from is that it not only gives you recipes, but it teaches you how to cook. This gives you the freedom to modify recipes appropriately while still maintaining the general identity of the dish. According to Dave, "If you have only one cookbook, it should be Joy of Cooking." We also compiled ideas from the internet and the memory of other dishes that completed the meal. (His coconut rice recipe, for example, has been evolving for nearly a decade, though he usually serves it with jerk chicken.)


Thai meal

THAI FISH CAKES

We first attempted these with a Jack that Dave caught but wasn't sure how to prepare. He had always released them being under the impression that they were oily and fishy, until friends in the Keys told us they weren't too bad, depending on how you cook them. This recipe has enough flavors to cover any unpleasant fishy taste, though we have since gotten brave and discovered that they really aren't bad in any recipe. On those occasions when we want fish cakes but Dave's luck has been put on hold, we buy tilapia or other white meat to substitute in this recipe. And as with all Dave's recipes, amounts are approximate.

(If you have a food processor, feel free to use it to "chop finely." Otherwise, it takes some time to get the mixture fine enough to hold together well.)

Chop finely:
1 tsp. crushed red pepper
1 green onion
2 cloves garlic
½ inch piece of peeled ginger
2 Tbsp. fish sauce (can substitute soy sauce)
1 tsp. grated lime zest
1 tsp. sugar

Add and chop until pasty:
1 lb. cleaned fish

Add:
1 large egg
2 Tbsp. chopped fresh cilantro
2 green onions, coarsely chopped

Stir until combined. In a heavy pot, heat ½" oil over medium-high heat. (You can deep fry them, but we have an aversion to that much hot oil on a boat.) Knead mixture until it is smooth. Shape into 1 inch balls. Cook, rolling frequently, until browned: 4-5 minutes. Remove and place on a paper towel lined plate to absorb some of the oil. Serves 2 very hungry people.


Ready for frying

COCONUT RICE

1 C rice
¾ C canned coconut milk
¾ C water
(If using fresh coconut milk, eliminate water and use 1½ C coconut milk.)
½ tsp. salt
1 thin slice peeled ginger

Place all ingredients in a stainless steel bowl that fits in your pressure cooker. Cover with aluminum foil. Add ½" water to the bottom of the pressure cooker then place the bowl on a trivet. (If you have no trivet, use anything to keep the bowl off the bottom; a handful of silverware works.) Cook for 5 minutes after it comes up to pressure. Remove from heat; let the pressure come down on its own. Remove bowl, uncover and stir the rice just before serving. Serves 2+

ASIAN COLE SLAW

6-8 leaves green cabbage; rolled and then finely sliced
1 tsp. soy sauce
3 heaping tsp. sugar
Juice of 1 lime
2 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar
1 tsp. Thai red curry
1 Tbsp. finely minced ginger
1 Tbsp. fresh diced cilantro

Mix and let sit for at least an hour before serving. Serves 2.

THAI ICED TEA

Living without refrigeration means that when we have fish we usually buy ice if we are close to civilization. When we have ice left over, we make this Thai iced tea to go with our Thai meal.

In large glasses brew 2 tea bags in 1 cup of water for 5 minutes. (This can be done when you start cooking the meal.) Right before serving, add ice and ¼ C sweetened condensed milk. The milk would probably mix better if it were added before the ice, but we like the visual effect of adding it last.

ENJOY and let us know how you enjoy your Thai meal.

MONDAY we will continue our trip up the ICW, from Daytona to Jacksonville Beach, FL.

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